We can safely say that social media is here to stay. Key platforms have now reached a critical mass of users and their use has become increasingly embedded in people’s everyday working and social lives. This rise of social media has fundamentally changed the way brands and customers interact, turning existing brand-customer relationships on their head. We have witnessed a change
from organisations talking and the customer listening to dynamic, two-way, customer-led interactions.
This presents exciting opportunities for organisations, who can harness social media to grow their customer base and execute their brand strategy. Social media provides a wealth of data on consumer feedback, which, if harnessed properly, can help businesses to better understand their customers and, in turn, generate exciting, targeted content that strengthens their brand. This is about taking the social experiences we have outside of work, and carefully introducing them into the enterprise.
Starbucks is a great example of a company that has taken the lead in harnessing the power of social media. With 32 million ‘Likes’ on Facebook and almost 3 million followers on Twitter, the numbers alone are impressive. But it’s the depth of engagement Starbucks achieves with its customers that makes it stand out. For example, recognising that more and more users are accessing their accounts from a smart phone or tablet, Starbucks recently launched a Frappuccino Happy Hour photo competition. Each day for two weeks Starbucks gave its Twitter followers a different photographic challenge. Users had to tweet a photo of themselves, including the @StarbucksUK username, for the chance to win a £10 Starbucks card. This campaign achieved maximum exposure for minimal cost, recruiting many hundreds of thousands of unofficial ‘brand ambassadors’, who were generating online buzz about Starbucks.
Continue reading "How social media is changing brand management" »
In the immediate aftermath of Andy Murray’s historic win at the US Open, it wasn’t elation across his face, but mild panic. Moments after shaking hands with runner up Novak Djokovic, Murray could be seen anxiously searching and asking for his Rado watch – worth millions as part of a sponsorship deal with the Swiss watch maker. Luckily, Murray located the watch in time for the trophy lift, providing global exposure for Rado, and ensuring no breach of contract.
From Nike to Walkers Crisps to Obama, it seems like everyone is jumping on the celebrity endorsement bandwagon, with several factors contributing to the prevalence of celebrity marketing. Celebrity culture has reached new heights, with exposure and reach exploding due to the mass media, the ease of access to digital content and the continuing rise of social media. Twitter and Facebook have ensured constant exposure both for celebrities and for the brands that they endorse. In the 1990s, the pulling power of celebrities was demonstrated by the “Oprah Effect” - 55 million books were sold after being discussed and promoted on Oprah's Book Club – and organisations globally acted on this insight.
Continue reading "Brand ambassadors – can you take them at face value?" »
Storytelling has never been more important. So a recent visit to the Hayward Gallery’s exhibition, ‘Invisible: Art About the Unseen’, made me think.
The exhibition exhibited nothing. It featured 50 invisible works by some of the world’s biggest and some lesser-known artists: Andy Warhol’s empty plinth imprinted with the aura of his celebrity; Tom Friedman’s ‘Untitled (A Curse)’ is an area eleven inches above a vacant plinth that he had cursed by a witch; Gianni Motti’s ‘Magic Ink’ drawings which are the framed blank sheets of paper onto which he drew disappearing magic ink; the reply from the police to Maurizio Cattelan’s reporting of the theft of an invisible work of art; Yoko Ono’s ‘Instruction Paintings’ in which she describes how to make the artwork she envisages.
A case of the emperor’s new clothes, you might think? Invisible art has long been popular. In 1911 when the Mona Lisa was stolen, more people turned up to view the blank space left on the wall of the Louvre than used to visit the painting. Tours of the Hermitage’s collection continued after the works had been removed during the siege of Leningrad, with the tour guides simply described what used to inhabit the empty frames and plinths.
Continue reading "The art of storytelling" »
How important is global brand consistency and what brand elements are safe for local adaptation?
A key objective for global brand campaigns is consistent execution. Consistency helps build brand identity and awareness, which in turn can aid market share as people are more likely to buy a product they know and trust. However, pure consistency is impossible, with variables such as language causing campaigns to run differently through markets. Local relevance is also crucial as global developments do not always account for subtle market variations, weakening resident consumer relationships. Digital media illustrates the problem of this dynamic as any local online campaign is accessible globally.
Continue reading "Global brands and local relevance" »
Bear with me. This may not be as controversial as the title suggests.
What sparked my thinking that the role of the brand is changing was some research a client carried out recently into what brands people most loved and why. Of the seven brands, five were selected because of the product: Dyson (‘revolutionary product’), Mercedes (‘best cars’), Banyan Tree (‘second to none product’), Korda (‘great quality product’), Apple (‘superb quality of product’). Only two were due to conventional brand elements: Red Bull (‘revolutionary branding’) and a vodka brand which couldn’t be recalled but was liked because of the naked male model in the ad – Absolut.
This lack of love for brands is supported by other newly released research. Havas Media’s Meaningful Brands  survey found that most of the 50,000 people it interviewed worldwide would not care if 70% of brands disappeared in the future, rising to 91% in the UK. Even in marketing’s new frontier, social media, 61% of consumers state they do not see social media as a place they want to interact with brands, according to TNS’s Digital Life  report. The consumer’s relationship with brands is not as rosy as we like to think.
Continue reading "The brand is dead! Long live the label!" »
It seems that every week utilities in the UK are appearing on the front pages of news papers and on primetime TV news programmes regarding their customer service, complaints handling and high prices. With this increased exposure and negative publicity an interesting question has been raised; what is the impact of this negative publicity on a utilities brand and does it really matter?
Whilst discussing this question with a colleague the point became clear when they couldn’t answer a simple question; who is your energy provider? Whilst this may be a relatively unique case, it is clear that the brand equity of a utility is low compared to other industries such as retail – just think Apple, Burberry and John Lewis. Whilst these organisations are not in direct competition with UK utilities, they are the brands which customers regularly use and benchmark their experiences with other organisations against.
Continue reading "Should UK utilities be worrying about their brand in 2012?" »